I can't tell you how many times over the past few years I've had CFOs, COOs, General Counsel, Managing Partners and other firm executives tell me that we could really help them if we could just "modify the behavior of their firm's users". Of course, they are joking...well, at least partially! But it turns out, we can help! Don't believe me? Read on...
About a month ago, I was talking to the CFO of a large, global law firm for which we have been implementing incremental process improvements over the past 2 years. The firm started with the process automation of New Business Intake, which they have continued to extend and improve over time. In addition, they have implemented subsequent process automation, like Lateral Hire and Matter Party Management, among others. The firm has been very successful at continuous process improvement, because they astutely target key strategic changes as they become priorities.
As a result, the CFO and Risk Management teams are, in fact, modifying behaviors within the firm as they go!
This is exactly the approach we advocate and implement with our clients - introduce change incrementally and intelligently within a single user-friendly framework (our LBMS product). Every change implemented further indoctrinates firm users, and their acceptance and tolerance of change increases, as they recognize the value in overall efficiency it is bringing them and the firm as a whole.
Sound farfetched for your firm? It's not as far away or hard as you may think!
Take a look at some of the most basic organizational change techniques we help law firm management employ:
1. Implement business processes that have embedded business rules that ensure the process is followed in complete compliance with firm policies, but with the built-in flexibility necessary to accommodate the nuances that always exist within business environments.
- Example: ensure that credit checks occur for all new clients, and enforce retainer check obtainment before intake process completes.
2. Provide oversight visibility (and alerting) to key risk management, financial management and strategic management teams for proactive and intelligent adjustments.
- Example: If Alternative Fee Arrangement is being utilized (and it was not previously reviewed by Finance), prompt immediate Finance Review by a Financial Analyst.
3. Hold the line of accountability consistently, across the firm.
- Example: Provide ability for operational teams to return requests back to requestors if information is inaccurate or incomplete. Even with the best business rules, requestors can sometimes send in a request that just isn't quite right. Historically, central operational teams would just 'clean them up' because it was so arduous to send paper forms back, or email back and forth with the requestor. But with effective business automation, 'training' of requestors by returning the request back for the additional information required is a fantastic way to change behavior and increase overall efficiency!
4. 'Bug' them just enough to act in a timely manner, and make it easy for them to do the work and move on so they can continue to focus on the practice of law!
- Example: Automate reminders and ticklers to ensure the users are timely in responding to information requests or approval requests. Includes mobile review and approval.
5. Ensure visibility into back-end business system information is provided securely to decision-makers to increase efficiency and accurate decision making.
- Example: Provide Accounts Receivable Aging directly within new business intake for an existing client if firm A/R thresholds are exceeded to enable timely collection reviews or better decision-making regarding required retainer amounts.
I understand that those of you responsible for managing law firms have a hard balancing act to maintain in terms of transforming your firm's business model while at the same time ensuring you don't over-tip the scales of your firm's cultural norms. But, given the accelerated transformation the legal industry is undergoing, it is clear that sticking with the 'status quo' is more dangerous than doing something that provides the ability to phase change in thoughtfully. The end game? Getting the business of your law firm happening concertedly, and in an enterprise-aware fashion.
We’ve written a special report that outlines how you can improve your business processes, increase your efficiency, and boost your bottom-line profits – even in this economy.
“7 Steps to Efficiency Gains and Enhanced Loss Prevention at Law Firms” focuses on the new business intake process as an example and describes how to use a seven-step process to do more with less. Download the special report.